Circus News

Festival Roundup: 2021

Festivals are back! With COVID-19 restrictions loosening and circus re-emerging, artists and fans alike are eager to share their love for circus all over the globe. While some festivals may be either partly or fully online, there is a lot to see and do this summer. Whether you’re planning on celebrating circus arts at a cool new venue or from the comfort of your own home, there’s options for everyone. Let’s jump in.
What: International Circus Festival Gold Elephant

When: June 24, 2021June 28, 2021

Where: Girona, Spain – In person

This in-person festival is the only international circus festival in Spain. It’s first nine editions brought in much success, with over 200,000 spectators. Styled after the famous circus festivals of Moscow and Monte Carlo, Gold Elephant 2021 will feature trapeze artists, clowns, acrobats, jugglers, and more. 18 attractions will be presented in a venue with as much distance and ventilation possible. In a tribute to all the recent canceled festivals, Gold Elephant 2021 has created a special edition titled “Festival of Festivals,” which will present winning numbers from other festivals around the world. This unique festival is demonstrating that the heartbeat of circus is still strong.

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What: Alberta Circus Festival 

When: June 25, 2021 – June 27, 2021

Where: Alberta, Canada – Online

The first ever Alberta Circus Festival is debuting online this June, bringing a fun blend of theatre and circus arts to the community. This festival is hosted by Firefly Theatre and Circus. The new festival is committed to the creation of a regional voice in contemporary circus. Over the course of three days, participants will enjoy shows, panels, and workshops. Headliners include hula hoop artist Kate Ryan and aerial silk artist Kadri Hansen. Christine Bouchard from En Piste and Tim Roberts from École de Cirque de Quebec will also appear as special guest for the panels and discussions. This festival will take place completely online. Their industry events are all free, and are aimed to encourage emerging artists and arts professionals.

Alberta Circus Festival poster

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What: Underbelly Festival

When: July 1, 2021 – September 26, 2021

Where: London, England – In person

Underbelly is set to take place in central London and will offer comedy, cabaret, and circus in a family-friendly environment. This outdoor, in-person festival will host a full program of live performances alongside great outdoor bars and street food. Underbelly Festival has been quite successful since its start in 2009, and is recognized as a London cultural icon. Its extensive program is known for being one of the most affordable in the country. The Underbelly family program includes circus show Hotel Paradiso from Guinness World Record holders, Lost in Translation. TuckShop returns to the festival with a new drag show, The Sickening 90s Drag Prom. Headliners include Bernie Dieter’s Berlin Underground.

Two patrons laugh together at a table while they enjoy food

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What: Montréal Complètement Cirque Festival

When: July 8, 2021 – July 18, 2021

Where: Montréal, Canada – Hybrid 

Founded in 2010, the Montréal Complètement Cirque Festival is returning to the city this summer. The 12th edition of this festival will be arriving to celebrate circus in all its forms in July, combining digital production with in-person performances. The well-known festival will feature seven different indoor and outdoor acts, as well as picnic “bubbles” and BBQ service. MCC is buzzing with excitement, and hopes to create a long-awaited reunion for circus lovers. Headliners include Cirque Barcode, Productions Kalabanté, FLIP Fabique, and more.

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What: TILT

When: July 12, 2021 – July 23, 2021

Where: Birmingham, England – Hybrid

TILT 2021 will be a hybrid festival, offering performances and masterclasses both online and in person. The festival will last 2 weeks and feature aerial acts and physical theatre. Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy seminars and networking alongside industry professionals. Class choices include Chinese pole, aerial silks, and aerial rope. Performance highlights include Around the World in 80 Days and Scratch That! All shows will be streamed live from Birmingham. TILT was founded six years ago and focuses on creating an open environment for all ages, experience levels, and bodies.

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What: Edinburgh Fringe Festival

When: August 6, 2021 – August 30, 2021

Where: Edinburgh, Scotland – Hybrid

This summer, Edinburgh is gearing up to welcome a three-week long burst of creative excitement. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an open-access arts event committed to storytelling. What makes this festival unique is that it has no artistic director –the artists themselves control the shape of the program. From big name artists to performers just starting out, the festival caters to a wide array of audience tastes and will feature something for everyone. This year’s festival will be comprised of live in-person events that meet government safety guidelines, live online performances, and online on-demand shows that can be viewed at any time. The first shows of this festival will be available to book July 1st! In keeping with Fringe’s commitment to sustainability and public safety, the festival will be fully e-ticketed.

Four artists sit together on stage in costume

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What: Wet Hot American Circus Festival

When: September 6, 2021 – September 12, 2021

Where: Michigan, United States – In person

Over the course of one week, participants will take part in an adult summer camp circus extravaganza. While camping in the Michigan woods, they will enjoy shows, workshops, networking, and circus dance parties. The festival will include three official workshops, pop-up work shops, communal meals, four circus performances, evening activities, and more. 3AM Circus will be included in the show lineup.

A group of people hikes through a creek

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What: St. John’s International CircusFest

When: September 23, 2021 – September 26, 2021

Where: St. John’s, Newfoundland – In person

Wonderbolt Productions says they are ecstatic to announce the 4th annual St. John’s International CircusFest (SJICF) will be live and in-person this September 23rd – 26th, 2021! Featuring local artists and renowned circus companies from Québec now able to join us at the edge of the world, they are planning industry panels, parties, and new performances.
Building on the success of previous years’ sold-out performances, SJICF is also returning to the stage with live in person performances. However, as last year’s digital festival proved, online events are effective in reaching those who can’t yet make the trip to Newfoundland. Last year’s online industry panels and workshops were popular with the International Circus community, so with this in mind, SJICF plans to expand and further integrate digital events into the live and in-person events. Industry web panels and workshops will again be broadcast from Memorial University’s Emera Innovation Exchange (EIX) to properly host digital gatherings and ensure the best video quality possible. You can join the 4th annual St. John’s International CircusFest at the edge of the world!

St. John's CircusFest Poster

This festival roundup is a special one. After a long hiatus for the circus industry, the upcoming festival calendar is extra exciting. With all the circus shows and creative energy taking over this summer, there’s something for everyone. What circus event are you most excited for?

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Main image: Underbelly Festival

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Lydia Nord
Performer, Writer, Associate Editor -United States
Lydia is a Sailor Circus graduate currently based in Florida who was featured in the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. She is a Florida State University alumna and former member of the FSU Flying High Circus who received a degree in Media Communication Studies and Spanish. Her disciplines include trapeze, aerial silks, and Spanish web. Lydia is happily a part of the CircusTalk team as a journalism associate editor, combining her love for media and all things circus.

Lydia Nord

Lydia is a Sailor Circus graduate currently based in Florida who was featured in the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. She is a Florida State University alumna and former member of the FSU Flying High Circus who received a degree in Media Communication Studies and Spanish. Her disciplines include trapeze, aerial silks, and Spanish web. Lydia is happily a part of the CircusTalk team as a journalism associate editor, combining her love for media and all things circus.